Sunday, September 19, 2010


I am an Art teacher.
I was An art teacher.
The Art program was eliminated, and my job along with it.

Last month I retired from teaching.
Now I'm looking for a job.

Contrary to what we read and hear in letters to editors, on television, etc., a great many teachers and other public servants do not have retirement benefits that will support survival. It all depends on how long you have worked. I changed districts after ten years, losing my permanent status and my seniority. But the economy was good and districts were hiring, so I was optimistic about building my reputation in a new place. Then everything went to hell after the 2000 election and I got caught in a series of education cuts that kept me working part-time. With no full time teaching positions available in my area, I was lucky to land a part time job teaching Art to young elementary students. California had sent aside money for the fine arts, and once again things were looking up. Until they headed down again, and the state decided to let school districts use that fine arts money for whatever they wanted.

The money that funded the art program was no longer dedicated to art, and the art program was axed, along with my job.A creatively-thinking principal thought he would be able to add an art program to his school using federal money, something that is supported by the U.S. Department of Education. But the California Department of Education, in its wisdom, says the money can only be used for language and/or math. Those almighty test scores, apparently, are the only things they care about.

It is utterly ludicrous that people in power don't understand that true learning is broader and deeper than what can be shown on a bubble test. While the children of California suffer and are denied a true well-rounded education because of bureaucratic nonsense, I guess I will be taking some naps. And making art. And looking for a job.

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